Synopsis | Reviews | Excerpt
The vampires want it. The demons want it, too. And someone is willing to kill Val for it.
Val and Fang have to find the powerful Encyclopedia Magicka before either of San Antonio's warring underworld factions locate it or the consequences will be deadly for the entire city. As usual, Val's vampire enemies (they still call her The Slayer) want her dead. Even some of her fellow demons may be less than trustworthy, since they'd like to grab the legendary book of spells before she does. Val has a personal claim to the Encyclopedia--her demon father left it to her when he died--but someone stole it recently. And that can't be good.
Battling vamps and dodging demons, Val struggles to unravel the mystery and find the thief. At the same time, she's fighting her attraction to sweet, sexy Shade--her favorite shadow demon. Rumor has it that Val will lose her part-demon, vampire-fighting powers if she gives herself to him.
With a crowd of vamps and demons out to trick her or kill her, it's not a good time for her to risk her job as the city's best vampire hunter by falling in love. The stakes are high and aimed right at her heart. But Lola, Val's hungry little lust demon, doesn't like being denied. Will Lola finally get her way?
What's a part-lust-demon-teen supposed to do? Whatever it takes.
"This YA urban-fantasy series continues in its outstanding course...I love all the action, and I adore the comic relief ..it is a privilege to continue to follow this compelling duo." -- Kate McMurry, McMurry and August
"…the series was an absolute joy to read!!" -- Rose Selcer, GoodReads
"Another fast, action packed read with loveable characters. Urban Fantasy lovers, you will love this book." -- Jamie Skinner, NetGalley Review
"…This is an amazing series…extremely imaginative and unpredictable…extremely fast paced with lots of action…I cannot recommend these books enough…I don't want this series to end." -- Suzanne Finnegan, Paranormal Book Fan
"Ms. Blue’s books is the best paranormal fiction I’ve ever read so far....everything a paranormal fiction fan could ask for. ...paranormal fiction that nobody should miss. ...packed with action and adventure... I definitely wouldn’t mind reading the series over and over again for I cannot get enough of the story." -- Ellinia, Library of Lights
"...fast paced, exciting storylines...The ending took me by surprise; I can’t wait for the fourth book to come out!" -- CJ Harris, Vampire Librarian
"...big, shocking and intense." -- Lara Taylor, Fresh Fiction
" I am thrilled that Parker Blue keeps adding to this series! I love Val and Fang and can't wait to see what adventures they get up to in the next story. " -- Kristee Allen , Book and Dagger
"You will not be disappointed....if you are a fan of Chloe Neill's Chicagoland Vampires, then you would really like this book." -- Jessica Cochrane , Net Galley
"...a great series... will definitely continue to follow... the ending was totally shocking." -- Catherine Coffman, Thinking Cat Blog
"A different twist on the supernatural world." -- Judy Gundel, NetGalley
"...a book with a kick butt heroine... Fans of Vampire Academy will definitely adore this series." -- Kaitlynne Watanabe, NetGalley
"Just like Bite Me and Try Me, this book will not disappoint...you have to keep turning the pages." -- Theresa Raymer, Just Nook It
"If you like the Twilight series but want something with a little more kick to it, you should give these a try." -- Rachel, NookBook Blog
Weird. Definitely weird. I stood outside the wrought-iron gates of the Alamo Heights mansion at a quarter to midnight and gawked. Sure, the dark spooky brick mansion housed the biggest vein of vampires in San Antonio—I knew that. But the fact that said creepy mansion was lit up by cheery red and green Christmas lights? Too surreal.
Okay, it was the season, with Thanksgiving over and done with a week ago, but after all the mayhem and violence that had happened here, it seemed totally bizarre.
Fang snorted. You were part of most of that mayhem and violence, he said on a private channel in my mind.
Here I am, Val Shapiro, the mighty Slayer, feared by vampires, demons and humans…yet somehow totally disrespected by my own dog.
Someone has to keep you from getting a fat head, Fang retorted. And who better than your best friend?
It was my turn to snort. Fat head, me? Fat chance.
Shade bumped my shoulder with his. "You okay?”
Ah, Shade, my new boyfriend. How did I get so lucky? The shadow demon and I tried to date like a normal couple, but our relationship wasn't exactly ordinary. I kept the shadow demon within Shade grounded in this reality so he didn't let the big bad demons through into our world, and he fed the lust demon within me.
Not like that. I was still untouched, cherry, a total "V”. I'd just found out recently that giving that up would be a way bigger choice than I'd ever dreamed. Lose my virginity, lose my powers. Yep, those very things that made me the Slayer—enhanced senses, fast reflexes, and rapid healing—would be forever lost to me if I ever did the deed. So, I remained a frustrated slayer.
As Fang put it, sucks to be me.
Oh well, circumstances had forced me to be the Slayer for a while longer. Once this job was over, I'd have to make the big decision.
I bumped Shade back. "I'm fine.”
"You don't really have to do this, Val,” he said.
I sighed. It was what I wanted to hear, but it wasn't true. "Yeah, I do. I not only gave my word, I signed a contract.” Though it had taken a week for the demon lawyer and the vampire lawyer to hammer out a contract we could all agree on.
Fang spoke to both of us this time. Demon lawyer . . . bloodsucking lawyer. Redundant much?
Shade chuckled and I gave Fang a wry grin. "I really don't have a choice. Besides, I took leave from Special Crimes and if I don't do this, there's no pizza in your future.” Hellhound or not, Fang liked the creature comforts of urban living.
Then get in there. Go to work. Work, work, work.
I didn't mind working. I just wished I could bring home the bacon by slaying evil vampires on the dark streets of San Antonio. That was a whole lot more appealing than playing assistant to Alejandro, leader of the New Blood Movement, one of the "good” vampires... who apparently had strung up twinkling Christmas lights as a sign of the Movement's sweetness and light.
I glanced at the lights again and sighed.
"I'm sure Lieutenant Ramirez would take you back in the SCU in a heartbeat,” Shade said.
I could eat cheap, Fang offered. This isn't what I signed on for.
Too bad I had. "It's only midnight to dawn, five days a week,” I reminded them. The lawyer had gotten me that much. That was about seven hours a day this time of year, but hey, it was better than fourteen.
Shade hugged me with one arm. "I worry about you.”
My legs went all limp and rubbery. Sheesh. Here I was, eighteen years old—an adult who faced down bloodsuckers—and feeling all gooey and dopey like a kid, just because a guy said he cared about me.
I glared at Fang. Shut up. You're no better when you're around Princess. Fang had a thing for Shade's dog. Her royal highness claimed to be a pure-bred Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, but there was definitely a lot of hellhound in her, too.
Ignoring Fang's eye roll, I hugged Shade back, loving the way it felt to touch a guy without worrying about Lola ripping his energy out of him. "I'll be fine. And you can always call me if you get too worried.”
"Okay.” Then, a little tentative and awkward, he placed his hands on either side of my face, so that the swirling mess that was his face disappeared and revealed the sight of Shade I couldn't get enough of. He kissed me gently, and I melted.
Lola stirred. She liked Shade a lot, and was obviously up for any lust energy he cared to send our way. But I didn't like to take advantage too often. Nothing wrong with going in to a dangerous situation feeling a little edgy. Kept me on my toes.
But turning down all that sexy energy didn't mean I couldn't enjoy the heck out of his kiss. I met his with a hungry one of my own, and it was just me... and Shade. I loved this kind of kiss, where I knew he was kissing me because he liked me and not just because Lola made him feel really good.
Fang butted in between us. Enough with the lovey dovey stuff. You promised to meet Alejandro at midnight.
Reluctantly, I pulled away and checked my cell. Yeah, I had five minutes. "I'd better go,” I told Shade.
He nodded. "Okay, but call me as soon as you get home.”
"I will.” After one last brief kiss, I let go of him and grabbed my Valkyrie motorcycle.
Shade punched in the combination to open the gates and Fang trotted along beside me as I walked the bike up the long driveway. It seemed a bit out of place next to the limo and shiny black luxury cars, but who cared? I wasn't here to impress anyone.
I heard Shade's motorcycle roar off and I steeled myself. Alone now except for Fang, I might as well get it over with. There were no guards at the door this time. I hesitated for a moment, wondering why I had no problem battling a brace of vampires, but felt a twinge of fear at the thought of playing nice and being assistant to the one vamp I actually considered good.
Because you're not stupid, Fang said. And he pretty much owns you until you find the missing Encyclopedia Magicka.
I grimaced. Too true. But before I could knock on the door, it was opened from the other side.
Austin, a tall, lean cowboy, and one of Alejandro's lieutenants, stood there grinning at me. "Hello, darlin'. You plannin' on coming in sometime tonight?”
Though Austin was always nice and polite, he also usually managed to make me feel foolish.
"Sure, why not?” As a comeback, it was pretty lame, but a few hours from now, I'd think of a real zinger.
Austin bowed me through with a flourish and I tried to act nonchalant as I sauntered in the door. I followed him into the great room—a huge space with soaring ceilings, immaculate dark hardwood floors and lots of heavy wood and wrought iron furniture. Very Spanish Mediterranean.
Not that I could see much of it today—the entire place was filled with bloodsuckers. What the heck... ? Vampires, wearing black leather, black silk, black you-name-it, filled the room to overflowing, spilling down the hall and into the next room like an inkblot. Conversations came to a halt and I saw nostrils flare as if they scented my humanity and the blood that lay beating just beneath the fragile layer of my skin.
Fang's hackles rose and he took a step back, growling.
Fear spiked through me, making my blood sizzle and my eyes flash purple. Lola leapt up, ready and willing for action. I checked to make sure the stakes were still hidden under my vest in the back waistband of my jeans. Yep, but three wasn't gonna do it with this crowd.
When the vamps didn't move, I realized maybe attack wasn't what was on their bloody minds. Instead, they all stared at us, unmoving, some with amusement or boredom on their faces, some disgusted, but most with no expression at all.
"What's going on?” I asked Austin.
Alejandro swept forward, all Latin grace and sophisticated host. "My apologies,” he said, smiling at me with his typical charm. And he had a lot of it. With his long, dark hair, smoking hot bod, and a natural charisma, he oozed sex appeal... and he knew it. Luckily, I'd never been sucked in under his spell. A little matter of his drinking blood... .
He seemed embarrassed. "I should have warned you I invited all of the members of the Movement to meet you.”
No kidding. But now that I'd relaxed, I noticed something else—pine garlands with red bows topped the windows, holiday do-dads seemed to perch on every surface I could see, and there was even a Christmas tree in the corner... with twinkling fairy lights on it, fergawdsakes. Baffled, I asked, "What's with the holiday cheer?”
Alejandro laughed. "Only Valentine Shapiro would notice such a thing in a roomful of vampires.”
Luis, another of Alejandro's lieutenants and a snooty Spanish aristocrat type, sniffed with disdain. "There is more than one reason for the season. Some of us like to celebrate the holidays just like humans.” But from the sneer on his face and in his voice, I gathered he wasn't one of them.
Why not? Fang asked. They were human... once.
I guess... . It was just hard to picture Luis and some of the others knocking back a bit of egg nog or hanging stockings by the chimney. Of course, there were no nativity scenes or crosses. There was a limit to how completely the vamps could co-opt Christmas.
Rosa, a gorgeous Latina with long flowing hair and the third of Alejandro's lieutenants, gestured impatiently. "Why not? Besides, it makes us seem more... likeable... when we come out, yes?”
Now that made more sense. The vampires of the New Blood Movement wanted to come out into the mainstream, wanted to be accepted for what they were, not what the lurid literature and entertainment industry had made them out to be.
Oh, yeah, all this crap is gonna really make them look harmless.
I agreed, but tried to be more diplomatic. "Uh, maybe. But do you think you might be trying a little too hard?”
"Told you so,” someone muttered from the crowd.
Alejandro sighed. "Perhaps you are right. But we want to put people at ease, let them see there is nothing to fear.”
What they want is more donors for their blood banks, Fang added cynically.
That was true, too, but who could blame them? And, much as I disliked the blood banks, they were a whole lot better than the huge amounts of random fangings—and bloody deaths—we'd had in town before Alejandro started his Movement.
"There, you see?” Alejandro exclaimed. "Already you have helped us. You are just what we need.” He made a beckoning gesture. "Now come, I wish to introduce you to the rest of my family.”
I went to stand in front of the Christmas tree next to Alejandro, feeling strangely self-conscious with all eyes on me. Vampires of all shapes and sizes stared back at me. You'd think from seeing Alejandro and his lieutenants that all vamps were totally hot. Not so much. The ones staring... hungrily?... at me pretty much ran the gamut of human society.
"Furthermore,” Alejandro said, "I wish to use this occasion to have all of you reaffirm your oath to the Movement in the Slayer's presence.”
Whoa. Tension suddenly filled the room at the mention of the "S” word. Why? Surely they'd all known what I was before this. Then the light dawned. He wanted me to read their minds while they swore undying allegiance.
Fang chuckled humorlessly. Yeah. He wants you to find out if he has any more traitors to worry about.
Oh, crap. No wonder they were upset. I mean, who liked to have their mind read? They had no way of knowing it wasn't my thing, that I didn't really enjoy mucking about in the dregs of a vampire's mind. Besides, I could only do it when one tried to control me, and I only did it then to confirm the bloodsucker's guilt or to protect myself and others... or apparently, when I was working for Alejandro.
Protests burst out around the room. Alejandro tried to calm them, but I tuned him out as a familiar sensation crept through me. Someone was trying to control me, someone named Jasper. Worse, he wanted both Alejandro and me dead... this very moment.
You two behind her—get her! someone yelled mentally.
I whipped two stakes out of my back waistband and whirled around, looking for the assailants. No one there. Were they in front?
I spun again to face the crowd, stakes at the ready. No one moved. What the hell?
The air took on a real tinge of unleashed danger as all those expressions sharpened and turned wary... and Jasper's thoughts turned to triumph.
Oh, crap. He'd played me, and I'd gone and done the stupid thing he'd hoped for. I'd just threatened an entire vein of vampires with only my trusty hellhound for back-up.